Monday, December 08, 2003

the anti-metrosexual 

In an attempt to avoid school work I've been clearing from my inbox all sorts of links and notes that I meant to blog about. Since most of these are horribly out of date, i'll just settle for this fascinating Maxim article on absinth, which I originally read while waiting for my $10 haircut at my barber's. Key quote on the chemical effects of the green drink:
So why all the hype about absinthe to begin with? Simply put, it’s not your average 140-proof drink. Absinthe is derived from the wormwood plant, which contains a psychoactive oil called thujone that produces what’s known as the “absinthe effect.” Often described as a kind of lofty clarity that accompanies the standard drunken reverie, over the ages the effect has inspired authors, poets, and artists, including, of course, van Gogh. The French were so fond of absinthe they affectionately called it la fée verte, or the green fairy, and millions were swiggin’ it at the turn of the last century, right about the time Germany was building a military juggernaut. Many believed habitual consumption led to a subtype of alcoholism known as absinthism, or absinthe-induced madness (apparently, 140-proof alcohol alone wasn’t good enough at causing people to go ballistic).

The drink’s dangerous rep grew to hysterical proportions in 1905, when French-Swiss Jean Lanfray murdered his pregnant wife and two children after a daylong binge. Soon absinthe was illegal in every European country, with the exception of England, Spain, and France, and the United States banned it in 1912. A few years later, Germany invaded an absinthe-soaked France, and in a futile attempt to galvanize the nation’s fighting spirit, French authorities also made absinthe illegal.

The fairy returns
Despite the fact that the FDA still classifies wormwood as a poisonous food additive, some historians believe absinthism was caused not by thujone but by nasty chemicals used in improperly produced absinthe. Others reject the concept of absinthism altogether, arguing that the French inability to hold their liqueur ruined a good thing for everybody. (Yep, just one more thing we can blame on the French.) Part of the reason European distillers were able to relegalize absinthe is that they’ve safeguarded production, limiting thujone content to 10 parts per million (mg/kg), which is “probably both safe and appropriate” says Wilfred N. Arnold, Ph.D., a biochemist at the University of Kansas who has studied absinthe extensively. While that ain’t enough thujone to make you slice off your ear, it’s more than enough to give you a taste of the absinthe effect. The key is moderation: Mix absinthe with plenty of water and sugar, and be aware that after about three shots the alcohol begins to override the thujone. While frolicking with the fairy, it’s too easy to pour another glass only to find yourself free-falling out of the green mists and into a puddle of your own electric green vomit.
The article also contains links to several websites where you can purchase bottles, along with a note assuring readers that the feds are too busy hunting down Saddam and Osama to worry about what you have shipped to your home from the UK.

Contrary to the claims made above, at least one website assures potential customers that their liqueur "has the same effects as in the 19th Century, since the same main herbs are used, in the same amounts, as well as the same manufacturing processes." It also notes that "thujone is a toxic chemical present in wormwood and has a similar molecular geometry with THC, the active chemical in cannabis." If you're too freaked out to buy a bottle of absinthe, they welcome you to try a bottle of Cannabis Vodka, which is alcohol produced with hemp seeds to replicate "that distinct taste of Cannabis."

Fun stuff.
Comments: Post a Comment

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?